Bold Fortune

fortune favors the bold

Category: Really?

Slainte

by mollykl

I fucking hate St Patrick’s Day. There, I said it.

In the first place, it falls during Lent so how did it become twisted into a day of bacchanal-level drinking?

Secondly, do you even know who St Patrick was?

And thirdly, beer should not ever be green, and there’s a special place in purgatory for you if you think it should be.

But this year I’m going to revel in it. Well, I’m going to revel in the irony of it, because Trump’s Travel Ban II (subtitled, “let’s just keep throwing these out until one sticks or until people get tired”) was, before being struck down, supposed to take effect March 16th. On March 17th we will celebrate the culture and saint of a people that this country once thought of the equivalent of the Syrians we are now rejecting, and we will do it with big smiles on our faces and cheer in our hearts.

America’s relationship with the huddled masses yearning to breathe free has always been complicated. We are ridiculously proud of being a nation of immigrants, but we don’t want any more right now thank you. We want immigrants like us, thanks, not like them. We were hostile to the Chinese, to the German and Irish in the mid-1800’s, to the Vietnamese in the 1970’s, and now to the Syrians. We were so fearful of Jewish immigrants that in the 1930’s we turned them back, where they returned to promptly be sent off to camps. Why is it we conveniently forget? (And sweet mother of God why does “Clueless” have a better argument in favor of immigration than Trump has in opposition?) We’re pretty good at forgetting that the greater number of us were immigrants, some only a few generations back.

Tomorrow everyone will pretend to be Irish. Want to really pretend to be Irish? Pretend you just left your home and came to a country that doesn’t want you. Delve into cultural memory for a time when your ancestors came here and were treated as the “other”, when the newspapers were full of editorials on why your great-great-grandfather was going to steal jobs or bring disease and crime.

Don’t like it, do you? Enjoy your green beer.

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No

by mollykl

It occurred to me today that I’ve never heard a man ask another man, who’s concentrating on his job, “are you cranky today?” or “are you having a bad day?” just because everything, including a not insignificant workload, was not dropped to hit them with a beaming smile. (For the record, I said hi, and then went back to the aforementioned not insignificant workload).

How often are men told “you should smile” or the odious version “smile honey!” One of my co-workers, who I adore, has a serious resting bitch face, but no one ever tells him to smile.

In college I was once told, “You’d be pretty if you got contacts.” (For the record, I look the same.) I’m sure the jackass thought he was being “helpful”.

At one of my first jobs my manager would stand there, not working I would like to add, and just watch me work and make comments about my legs and breasts. He also did the “accidental” brush up thing. You know that move, you’ve probably been subjected to that move before. I’m going to guess most men haven’t.

You’re over reacting.

Don’t be so sensitive.

Why are you being such a bitch?

Just ignore it.

You’re going to have to learn to deal with that.

Guess what? No.

No to all of it. No to the double standard that says I have to be merry fucking sunshine all of the time, but men can be serious and focused.  No to strangers giving me unsolicited advice about my glasses, my skin, my hair, or the fact that I should wear more feminine clothes and makeup. No to anyone who thinks they have the right to make crude remarks about my body.

I don’t care if you think I’m being overly sensitive.  I don’t care if you think I’m being a bitch. If my reaction is upsetting you, then you don’t matter to me. Care about more. Care about the inequality in the world, not that you think I’m cranky because I was doing my job instead of chatting you up. Care about the fact that you can write off seriousness in a woman as a bad thing. Care that women are subjected to standards that men would never put up with.

Because guess what? From now on I’m saying no, and I’m going to keep on saying it until you listen.

Why Agent Carter matters

by mollykl

Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter in Agent Carter:

The ABC show Agent Carter, the continuing adventures of Agent Margaret “Peggy” Carter, post Captain America, was cancelled this week much to the chagrin of those of who value, oh, good writing, believable and complex characters and strong storylines.

As I’ve mention before, in “You’ve come a long way, baby”  Agent Carter was unusual in today’s t.v. programming in that it allowed it’s characters to be layered and complicated. The bright colors of the sets and costumes belied the darkness of the storylines, of the everything the characters had seen and done during the war, and the reality of going back to “normal life”.   The show was the perfect reminder that the right thing can be done for the wrong reasons, and vice versa. Peggy is not perfect, her male co-workers can be assholes, a couple of the female antagonists are psychopaths, the good guys have dark secrets and the bad guys are sympathetic in their own ways.

And that’s just the show in general – that doesn’t even begin to get to the heart of Peggy herself. Here was a character for the ages – and one that made you wonder why it’s 2016 and we’re only NOW getting our “Wonder Woman” movie made, why there’s still practically zip in the way of “Black Widow” toys and don’t get me started on how Rey, the main-freaking-character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was cut out of the merchandising. Watching Agent Carter and witnessing the open hostility that was faced by women, on the job, in the street, and well, everywhere is a reminder of how far we’ve come. Watching Peggy deal with that shit is a reminder of how it’s done. Given that we’ve got a presidential candidate who has publicly referred to women as “a piece of ass” I think it’s safe to say that while we have come a long way we have a long way yet to go. Peggy handled it all. This is the hero we, not just women but all of us, need. For that matter, I’ll say that both Dottie and Whitney are the villains we need – they are each in their own way reflections of Peggy – smart, skilled, in Dottie’s case expendable, and in Whitney’s case undervalued and overlooked.

Peggy’s not a real person – I get that – but we need  characters real and fictional to learn and grow from and women need to be represented. I have plenty of real women who I look up to and who inspire me: the “Night Witches”, Eleanor Roosevelt, Stephanie Kwolek (inventor of Kevlar), Misty Copeland, and Lillian Hellman, to name a few. At least for a little while I had a make-believe one who kicked ass while wearing red lipstick.

Age appropriate

by mollykl

Son j is reading The Island of the Blue Dolphins for class. He’s in fourth grade, and they are all reading it together – two chapters in class each day, and one chapter at home. Husband J and I were thrilled that he’d get to read it and excitedly told him how great it is and that he is so lucky.

Yeah, that was all well and good until he gets to the point where otters, his favorite animal by the way, are killed and skinned. He was inconsolable. We dealt with it the best way we could, and we think he understands what we were saying, or at least trying to say. The whole thing’s been on my mind a lot today.

On my lunch I used Google to see if any other parents had advice or reactions. You know what I got? I got “why is this book being read by such young children!” “this book is too violent for this grade”.

Last night at the dinner table Husband J, when asked about his day, said that he had trainings, one of which was an “active shooter” training. Son j asked what that was and we had to tell him, our 9 year old, that he does active shooter trainings every year and has since first grade. He asked, “Oh, is that the one where we have to hide and keep very very quiet?”  He didn’t really understand why they had to do it, but he knew it was important. We felt the “why” of that one was best left till he is older.

My kid sees practicing response for a shooting as normal, but you’re worried that a story of survival that is a freakin’ Newbery Medal winner is too violent. For that matter as children my generation had to practice the stupid and utterly worthless “dunk and cover” (newsflash, we were surrounded by three Air Force bases, in case of nuclear attack, that desk was not going to be much help.)

Yes, he’s upset about the otters being killed. Good for him. He’s not a sociopath. You know how I’m going to keep it that way? I’m going to have him continue to read books that challenge him, and make him feel, and make him question.

 

25 years

by mollykl

Despite my snarkiness about it I really love that I get to work with people so much younger than I. It’s nice to get a different view of the world, to learn something new, and, to be honest, to get to smile and think,”I’ve got books older than you…”

I have a “This day in history” app that I love and check everyday. Some days nothing interesting happened and some days just seemed blessed, or cursed, whatever the case.

On this particular day in history in 1989 the East German government announced that citizens could start travelling freely to West Germany. The actual wall dividing Berlin and Germany didn’t come down till much later but the important part, the laws denying access to the West and the resulting guards (you know, the ones with machine guns) at the wall and checkpoints, well today’s the day those were demolished.

Since I’ve got co-workers and friends who weren’t even alive at the time here’s a short list of things they might not appreciate as much as someone my age. (Note I said “might not” I won’t be so arrogant as to assume they would not). The things others might take for granted are the things that I still look on and say, “I still can’t believe that happened.”

1. Fall of the Berlin Wall

2. Northern Ireland Peace Accord

3. Brady Bill

4. Successful space shuttle take-offs.

5. I’d say “Russia” instead of a “Soviet Union” but honestly I think Putin’s a whack-job who scares me more than Brezhnev ever did.

 

On being edited for publication…

by mollykl

Son j is a budding writer. He’s managed to achieve what I could not – he writes regularly. Currently he’s working on “The Legend of Bob”. Oh yes, and there is a part 1, 2 and as of today, 3. Son j loves his video games, particularly Minecraft and Terraria and so we also let him read books that are written for these. He gets them on his Kindle (yes my kid has a Kindle, insert your snarky comment nowhere thank you) and they are of roughly the same literary value as the trashy romance novels I buy from Amazon for 2.99 a pop. But he loves them. And he reads them. And, hey, if the kid is reading Percy Jackson, grades above his level, if he wants to read a crappy book as well I’m good with that.

The thing is, he got tired of reading what other people were writing and decided he could do better. Yesterday he took of his Legend of Bob stories to his afterschool program. He wanted to read it to everyone, but one of the staff had to read it first to make sure there was nothing objectionable in it.

Cut to 3:00 when I picked him up. The head of the program pulled me aside and told me about the story and said he couldn’t read it to the other kids because it had, and I’m quoting here, “objectionable language”. My first thought was, my being his mother, “great, he used the word fuck in a story”. But she elaborated, “the “k” word”.

Really? There’s a “k” word?

And then it kit me that she meant “killing”.

Well of course there’s a “k” word, there are zombies.

So I smiled politely, looked at son j and said, “wow, you finished your story!”

And when we got in the car I turned around and said,

“Congratulations j, you get to make the decision most writers don’t have to deal with until they reach publication: you can alter your story to get rid of what your audience doesn’t want to see, in this case the word “killing”, or you can stick to your guns and write what YOU want to, and lose readers. Either way, it’s completely your choice. You can decide, because you are in charge of your writing.”

He decided that he was going to stick to his story. Let me be clear: I was going to be proud of him regardless of what he chose, simply because it was his choice and he made it by himself.

But damn if I didn’t like that little 8-year old “fuck you if you don’t like my story as-is”.

When you’re pregnant people always give you advice about being the person you want your kid to look up to. How many say that sometimes you need to look up to your kid?

Free shit

by mollykl

A while back  over at C.S. Harris’ blog, she had a discussion with readers about author swag, or as I like to call it, free shit. At the RT convention in New Orleans this year she noted many authors setting up their tables with related author swag – running the gamut from bookmarks and buttons to…wait for it…lubricant from a noted erotica author (and eeuuuww). Her inner monologue response to the display “Oh dear, I only brought myself” made me laugh out loud. She wondered if it’s necessary and if it really works.

When I would go to the Natural Products Expo I would see, and be APPALLED BY, people walking up to tables and practically demanding product. Yes, there are lots of samples – it’s where buyers go to look at new lines and yes, you need samples to sell your product. But really, please behave. I saw two women with suitcases for crying out loud just loading up. What. The Hell.  What exactly is it about free shit? Even if it’s something you wouldn’t necessarily want, if it’s free you’re all over it.  I’m not being high-and-mighty on this one, ’cause I’m totally guilty.

But not with author swag I’m not. Several of my favorite authors offer it as prizes on Facebook or at conventions. That’s great, but I don’t want crap that I have to find a place for and dust.  If I went to a book convention I’d go to stalk, er, I mean, meet my favorite authors. I’m not there for the frickin’ mug. And your swag is not going to make me pick up your book if I’ve never read you. I see swag as being for the faithful fans who want a representation of some aspect of their favorite book; it’s not for me but I can see how some people would like it.

What I don’t get is that it’s now expected. Geez, you get a book a year (sometimes two if you’re lucky) and you want stuff?

So, to my favorite authors: no I don’t need author swag. Spend that money (because I know that for many of you that isn’t paid for by the publisher) on another cup of coffee, or tea, or whatever helps you power through that next chapter. I don’t mind dusting books.

 

About a boy

by mollykl

Son J got in trouble today. For playing in the dirt. PLAYING IN THE DIRT. Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s not supposed to at school, and I support the teachers and staff in their decisions, but at the same time HE WAS PLAYING IN THE FUCKING DIRT.  On my way up to get him I ran in to one of the staff who was trying to comfort him, because son J was understandably upset. The staff member wasn’t too happy either. He said, “It’s dirt. Boys play in dirt. It’s what we do.”

Yes it is. Boys aren’t girls. They are more tactile – they play in dirt, they explore differently and they relate differently. They don’t behave for the sake of good behavior. Good behavior is an abstract concept. Little boys don’t do abstract concepts.

I like neat. I like good behavior. I like “do as I say and don’t question”. Boys don’t do that. My boy doesn’t. The upside of that?

I’ve got a boy who questions everything and who will call you on your bullshit.

If he thinks he is right and you are wrong, well then you are going to hear about it.

If his version of reality is different from yours you’re going to hear about that too.

He holds tightly to his beliefs no matter how odd they are.

He will not do something just to make someone else happy if he is uncomfortable. (Case in point, someone was setting up a photograph at the school. Woman I’d never met before and she asked if Jack could be in the picture, which was staged INSIDE the recycling dumpster. I told her she’s have to ask Jack and he politely said, “No thank you.” I did not cajole and say, “Oh come on Jack, just be nice and do it.” Instead, I got in the car as she scowled and said, ‘Way to go kid, good job not doing something you didn’t want to.” Wish I’d learned that lesson years ago.)

He throws himself into everything he loves.

He is the most frustrating person I have ever met in my entire life, and that’s saying something.

I had this idea of what my kid would be like, or rather, what I expected my kid to be like.  That image and reality have yet to match up. I didn’t count on my kid actually being his own person. That’s not because he’s a boy, it’s just because he is who he is.

One of my coworkers said today, “I wish I’d had a boy frist (her daughter is about 7 months old). I think boys are probably easier. But then I think children aren’t easy, no matter what.” I laughed to myself and realized she was right. If it    was easy it probably wouldn’t be as worth it.

Curiouser and curiouser

by mollykl

I received the most perplexing compliment last week. In the break room I looked at my friend R and asked, as he looked back at me, “What are you thinking?” (A question a woman should NEVER ask a man, even one she isn’t sleeping with).

He paused for a moment and then said, “I want to say something, but I’m afraid you’ll hit me.”

It should be noted that I have a wicked right hook.

I told him to go ahead and he said, with a deep breath, “I like that you have your own style that you’re ok with that.”

I thought he was alluding to the fact that I had shown up to work un-showered and wearing the previous day’s makeup. I yelled, “Hey look! I had a bad night and I couldn’t take a shower! At least I’m still wearing yesterday’s makeup and put on perfume!” (Because, you know, Chanel makes everything better)

He put his hands up to defend himself and said, “No, it’s about your post on Facebook about the 20 coolest bookstores. You have your own style and you don’t care if it’s not cool.”

Chastened I mumbled thanks.

Later I wondered….what do you mean “it’s not cool”? Wait…I’m not cool? Sure I have the self-esteem of a turtle, but that’s just an outward expression. Internally I think I’m one of the coolest people I know. I mean, really people, I have CALLING CARDS for fuck’s sake. I READ. Sure, I’m not the snazziest dresser, but I’ve been doing much better lately – did you see me at M & J’s wedding?  I looked frickin’ amazing!

I mean, I know I’m not cool by most of my co-worker’s standards, but most of my co-workers have an average age of 23, so oh well. I can hold my liquor, I have a bar where I’m a regular and the bartender knows I like Herradura Silver neat, I can read a French cookbook like no one’s business, I know the tactile difference between thermography printing and engraving, and I know the significance of a ball at Netherfield.

That’s not cool?

Why?

by mollykl

We’ll know we’ve achieved something when that question stops being asked.